Renew, rethink, revitalize – a mini conference at the State Library of Victoria

I was one of the 270 public library staff who attended this great event, created and hosted by the State Library of Victoria.  Besides the three keynotes, the rest of the presentations were by library staff doing interesting things in their libraries.  They were all awesome.

Here are my notes:

Renew, rethink and revitalise mini conference – SLV – Wed 18th March 2015

Corinne Hill – Public library transformation (Chattanooga Library)

Need to rethink how we work, how we do daily tasks. It’s about changing the culture of the library.

Report to the Mayor’s Task force on the revitalisation and future of the Chattanooga library – 2009 – entitled Challenge of change. This was the kicking off point for the challenge of change for Chattanooga Library.

Library was broken but had good political support and Corinne took the challenge. Chattanooga has a $6 million budget, 4 locations and 170,000 population. No capital budget but flexible in operating budget. She tries to eke out as much savings as she can. Chattanooga has gig per second fibre to everyone in city – publicly owned company.

Better internet speed means better service to their users, but also brings in high speed change, little as well as big. Staff need to be flexible and nimble, a learning organisation that can make little changes all the time.

Commanders intent” – define what success looks like, plan it and then give your staff the goal to make it work. Need to be ok about parts of the plan failing, because the goal is what is important. You need to make sure your people know why the change is happening.

Need to learn to live with failure and learn from our mistakes. Don’t hide them but ensure you gain some value from them.

Circulation and percolation – Chattanooga circulation staff were trained to be baristas and ended up creating their own coffee blend called Shush. They also removed tasks from circulation so they weren’t overloaded. Staff have run with it and made changes to the menu and workflow.

Change the way your library looks – be welcoming and open, make it good.

4th floor Makerspace – innovation only has a short shelf life so you have to keep innovating. It happens on the edge of normal procedure and is where staff can take risks. All they did was add the wireless to begin with and that floor was the first to get it. Had a big party to launch it and it was a great success. Had a Maker Faire for the public, with the library and other local institutions presenting, to enable the public to check out new tech including 3d printers.

They started the Makerspace with basic tools but was helped by the community to work out how the space and equipment should be used. They are now starting to see 3d printing as a basic service, like copying.

Find out what people are good at and enjoy and get them into positions that suit them and the library. They opened their “Gig lab” with hackers making the most of the space and connection. Only direction was to be good – no visits from the NSA allowed. Now have textiles as well. The 4th floor is now a space for trying new things in public. The library is a community platform, not a service appointed from on high.

If you are going to build a learning organisation you need to have high performance teams with competing values – collaborate, control, create, compete.

Project success is dependent on teams being representative of all departments involved, with the most passionate person, not necessarily the most qualified, being in charge.

Don’t waste time on laggards, you won’t win them over, focus on the middle group who are asking – “show me what you have got”.

The public needs to decide what the library looks like and what it does. Collections are getting smaller but more relevant.

Be adaptable, flexible and trust your instincts. Look downstream, make decisions faster with less information and innovate. Libraries are moving from building collections to building capital. We are a people organisation. Have to believe in your change. Chattanooga is still not perfect, but they are still working on it. Everyone has to own it, but from top to bottom, success and failure.

Understand what your communities want and then give it to them. Plan, then change, then change again.

Sue Roberts – how to make friends and influence people – gaining support for renewal and redevelopment

Leadership is all about change, all the time and it is personal. It’s about grief, loss and renewal.

We are all about telling stories, our own stories in this context.

You need to look at your vision, need to involve your stakeholders and get buy in from them all. It doesn’t need to be perfect or dazzling, it just needs to work ( their current vision is online at

Aspiration is important, that is what draws people to us. It’s all about the people, all the time. We want to get as close to our users as we possibly can without stalking them.

SLV looked at how users are using the library now and use that information. They took the information to create 7 building blocks. Digital underpins it all, so is not a separate thing. Three internal blocks that is the foundation and then 4 which are outward focused. (Community engagement, Collections and content, Place and space, Access resting on Collaboration, People and capabilities, Sustainability).

Need to practice our stories, our narrative.

A new chapter in Victoria’s story – SLV building redevelopment.

Need more space and services. Needed to clear some physical footprint and develop new services around digital services, education, employability. First step will be the redevelopment of Queens Hall – the overall aim is to create 40% more space for the public.

Need to make the most of the friends you already have. Don’t give up, keep talking, keep lobbying and make the most of Trusts and Foundations in Australia.

Need to have a good values and strategically driven plan. A good plan with friends = change.

1.Try new things before you are ready and act as if you are worthy.

2. We are as worthy as the other organisations that we compete with for funds.

3. Live with ambiguity, uncertainty and knock backs – where the magic happens is outside your comfort zone.

4. Be clear what’s in it for not just us, but for everyone else.

5. Have your own personal motivation and drivers.

6. Take a long term view and perspective, even if you are not there to seek through. – it’s not about you.

Sue recommended the work of author Brene Brown –

If we wait until we are perfect or bulletproof we are wasting our time, our skills and missing opportunities.

Peter McMahon – State Library Victoria website refresh

SLV launched their new website on December 17 2014.

The website redevelopment had many issues to face. They had to take a brutally pragmatic approach to content and ending up reducing content 30%, using agile development methodology, which is based around user centred design.

The framework for the site was around research of user behaviour, using analytics and surveys and business needs. Design was to be adaptive. Users and staff provided the same feedback. Common themes were look, image driven, mobile accessible, welcoming, intuitive, changing, easy to explore, about the story and more about engagement.

Phase 2 of website is in progress now.

Homepage explains what they do, encourages exploration and is a stepping stone into deeper depths of content.

To cope with navigation, they used Mega menus, compacting down to three levels. Improved search so that users could filter at the start of the search, rather than having to wait to get into the catalogue.

A new addition was the image explorer. Had to hack into their image management system to do this and have an API for others to do the same. E-resources are given priorities and visual presentation. (Check them out at ).

Now host their own video and have a moderated discussion around them. Will also in future stream content from there as well.

Responsive design a tailored experience for every device. Designed first for tablets, then adapted experience for mobile phones and desktop computers.

Phase 2 focuses on community involvement and crowd sourced content, such as transcriptions, geo referencing maps, video capture of social issues and personal histories and more. Then Phase 3 to follow with further enhancements.

Cory Greenwood & Leanne Averill – NFC bringing digital library services into reality

QR codes have not really taken off. NFC can be used instead of a QR code, but it needs a tag, a newish phone and a third party app. However, you can use use leftover library tags.

Experiment 1 – awareness campaign for mobile catalogue, placed near OPACs and in study areas, NFC in signage links

Experiment 2 – shelf talkers for online resources eg in this instance Overdrive for Lonely Planet e-books.

Experiment 3 – shopping strips for e-books using classic Penguin book covers, linking to Project Gutenburg.

Planned projects – shopping strips for e-books at bus stops, mute tag for users to silence their devices, check in via Swarm/Facebook.

Things to consider – not all mobiles have NFC, consider ROI, NFC is often switched off, Apple users excluded for now.

Tania Barry – Once upon an iPad

iTots, about parents and children. Read interactive picture books in group. Making most use of devices that are already in homes.

Teaching children to use technology, but also the parents. Not only the tech but literacy and numeracy through the apps they highlight – particularly for those from non-English backgrounds.

Gareth Evens and Susan Thomson – High vaultage: unlocking our potential

The Vault was created to market and promote e-resources more prominently and aimed to target their key user groups as well as users in general.

Vault was also designed to promote events and programs and revisit their newsletters.

Publicity for it was on library TVs, banners, council newsletter, Dandenong civic plaza screen and postcards.

Bulk of the project was done in house. Based on Enterprise discovery layer. Basic web skills are needed to maintain such a site, including HTML, CSS and FTP.

Preferable to engage a graphic designer, they used Council design team and their own in house skills.

Site was tested by library and Council staff and interested stakeholders. Training was rolled out to all staff and staff quickly adopted the new site. This was followed with drop in sessions for the public.

Micah Macri – ERL Library database program

School database program for Yarra Ranges schools. Program is in two parts with presentation to students, then fun worksheets related to the students coursework.

In the classroom, they work hard to keep the kids attention, keeping it light and fun. Worksheet contained more fun information as well. The back of the worksheet has info for parents about the library.

They created their own URL, which is easy to for kids to remember and takes them to Britannica so they can complete their worksheet.

Phenomenal take up with increased membership and increased online resources usage.

Leanne Averill – How a small scale project re- invented a library and inspired a staff

Old building which had some structural changes with the introduction of RFID in 2012. Changes were not enough though, needed more space, more power, more collaboration, more meeting space and the need to use more of the natural light.

They couldn’t change the outside facade and low ceilings. Refurbishment in 2013 came from a Living Library grant of $45,000, Council the same amount and library $25,000. Now have less reference, new glass magzazine shelving, heavy weeding was done to allow more space for PCs and user collaboration and lots of power points. They even installed two new meeting rooms, one of which can be opened up to the library when not in use.

One staff member’s suggestion was the tipping point for staff involvement – when that suggestion was taken on, it started the flow from others who really began engaging with the project. It has resulted in staff beginning to think bigger and broader. They have also taken real ownership of the library and its collection, space and services.

Secrets to success:

  • manager open to ideas and have open conversations
  • budget stretching
  • let go of stuff – change has to happen
  • lead by example
  • staff self- selected and left before having the change enforced on them.

Not finished yet, still display space, kitchenette and more to come.

Users were patient during the change. They have had a 300% increase in Wifi use, now have all day users, increased PC and meeting room use, large increase in use of magazines and statistics are holding on non-fiction loans even after a massive weed.

Ayden Said – Real uses for iPads in Libraries

To support running programs across multiple branches they purchased mobile devices, but needed to find ways to store, charge and keep them up-to-date.

Storage – got safe case at cost of $70 with foam insert that could be customised, with a tablet hub. With everything in, it weighed 10 kgs.

Software updates – using Airwatch mobile device management.

Staff training – through immersion therapy, branch meetings, train the trainer etc.

Regular feature in 12 programs including, community visits, Lego clubs, conversation clubs, gamers club. They have also added programs Intro to iPads and Intro to Samsung tablets.

Gamers@Sunshine, using Lan games over a special wifi network, some using the library devices.

Tablets have become a valuable and well used resourced because it’s a programming tool not a special thing.

John Crennan – LEAN review and EDI ordering and invoicing

LEAN review is about making life easier. It looks at the process from end to end, eg. From user purchase request eg. How did they request it to when they have it in their hands.

Benefits are decreased complexity, staff engagement, improved results and more.

Components are defined as add value, don’t add value but are required, no value and no requirement.

Acquisitions – took people from book request, selection, ordering, acquisitions, cataloguing, invoicing and payment.

Not a review of staff work, but of the processes and every step was defined.

They mapped the processes, including process time, lead time, delays, bottlenecks, impact of issues, percentage complete and accurate. This helped come up with ideas – reduce time, errors and bottlenecks.

EDI ordering was seen as a solution that could meet issues raised in the LEAN review. It is the process of ordering and invoicing electronically. High effort and high impact, but huge cost savings.

They needed vendors on board, FTP access, vendor changes not to break things and management commitment.

Now invoicing three major book vendors, staff have been moved to other tasks, budget data more accurate. They have estimated savings of $10,000.

Danielle Marie – Supporting English literacy a strategic approach

Brimbank has high rates of educational disadvantage and youth unemployment. Culturally diversity is a strength.

They have a Key strategic direction to create a community of lifelong learners. Programs must support one of 7 strategic themes. Framework is reviewed every 18 months.

Stephen Heppell – engaging young people with creative technologies

Trust young people.

Only 21% of our lives is spent in minimal formal education – leaves a lot for lifelong learning.

We need to be learning to learn, not just learning content.

The huge advantage we have is agility, we can change relatively quickly.

When you share learning with others it helps you, it expands the knowledge base.

What do today’s students want in future? – Learning spaces that incorporates the tech that they use at home, mood lighting, writing surfaces, spaces that they can reorganise for their own needs.

Not getting up to date by reading journals, get on Twitter and follow librarians.

Walk around your library with your phone and luxe app – need levels above 450 for note taking etc. Minimum for conversation is 250. Check co2 levels and lighting as well.

Make your spaces seductive enough to attract people to come and stay.

Stephen Heppell –